All those phrasal verbs! Did you pick up what he was saying?


Have you picked up a sense of excitement among people, especially children, as Christmas, New Year and Reyes (Epiphany) approach?

Many non-English speakers have a kind of love/hate relationship with Phrasal Verbs. They find them strange, annoying, intriguing, challenging.

The big thing to know is that there are lots of phrasal verbs and there is little consistency or logic. Explanations are often interesting, but they don’t really help you to be a black belt Phrasal Verb Master.

But you possibly already knew all those things.

The best way to pick up some phrasal verbs and add them to your active vocabulary is to consciously make the effort to practice using them in context. Take care though! As the context changes, so the translation into your own language can easily be different each time. By the way, it’s a good idea to avoid picking up the habit of constantly looking for a translation.

Why is that? Well, mainly because finding the translation fixes an immediate problem but it doesn't require any effort from your brain. Consequently, in the long term you aren't going to pick up as many new phrasal verbs as you would like.

What often happens is that you might pick up on the meaning but you can’t find the translation. Don’t worry! That is totally normal. You just have to be patient with yourself. When you hear or use a particular phrasal verb in different contexts, the translation suddenly appears in your mind. It’s almost like magic: your spirits pick up and put a smile on your face.

However that magic doesn’t happen if you always block yourself by insisting on picking up a dictionary to find the translation or questioning why the translation that you used last time doesn’t make sense this time. Give your brain time to pick up the meaning, give it a chance to find the answer. It usually does.

Did you pick up that “Pick up” can mean any of the following?

• Acquire
• Learn
• Improve
• Take in your hands
• Understand
• Observe or notice

How many phrasal verbs do you think exist in English? Over 12,500.

Did you know that only 100 specific high frequency phrasal verbs account for 54.7% of all phrasal verbs used in the English language. What are the implications of this?

Students who have this crucial knowledge have a major advantage. They do not need to learn the other 12.400 phrasal verbs. That saves them a lot of time and effort, allowing them to get to an advanced level in record time. It's not how many phrasal verbs you know that is important, it's how many high frequency phrasal verbs you know.